Coach hopes to build athletic team room
By Laura Colvin
- Kuna Melba News Editor -
Imagine a huge, inflatable Kuna Kavemen football helmet billowing smoke.
Imagine varsity players busting out of the helmet and onto the field for pre-game introductions.
Or, just attend the team’s first home game against Nampa on Friday, Aug. 31 and see it all for real.
Although summer’s just barely begun, preparations for football season are in full swing at Kuna High School, and the excitement for a big turn-around – centered on newly-hired head coach Lee Leslie—is mounting.
If early estimates are correct, the team raised about $6,100 at a Family Fun Day fundraiser last Friday – money Leslie wants to put toward a new athletic building.
“It’ll be an athletic team room,” he said, noting the building will be available for all the school’s sports teams, not just the gridiron gang. “The high school is beautiful, but we don’t have anywhere we can put 100 kids to teach them something.”
The room will have four white boards, plenty of seating and equipment that will allow the team to watch game film.
The wrestling room is currently utilized when necessary, he said, but with athletes coming off outside fields and tracking dirt on the wrestling mats, staph infection and other potential health issues have become a serious concern.
The new 40-by-60-foot structure will be located near the football field and will cost around $35,000 to build, Leslie said. Plans are to fund construction through fundraisers and donations, not from the school district’s already-tight budget.
Kuna Schools Superintendent Jay Hummel did not immediately return a call for comment.
Leslie said he’s not sure the building will be up before the team’s first home game Aug. 31, and he doesn’t want a big construction mess near the field during the season.
So the whole project may have to wait until next year.
If he has to, Leslie said he’ll rent big event-type tents to set up as a team room during home games.
But he’s hopeful that won’t be the case.
“I’ve got a few aces up my sleeve,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Leslie, who works full time as the wellness director for Scentsy, planned to retire after leaving his head coaching position with Bishop Kelly in 2011, but it wasn’t to be.
“When I took the position at Scentsy, I wasn’t sure I could give it my best, and give coaching my best if I was doing both,” he said. “But last year, not coaching for the first time in 28 years, I really missed football.”
He’s back in the saddle; the Kavemen held team camp last week, and although Leslie has the team starting out slow—breaking huddle, simple drills, etc.—the enthusiasm is building.
“It was the kids that really brought me here,” he said. “You’ve got some great talent here, but these kids have gone one and nine the last four years. They’re hungry. They’re really hungry.”
Before Coming to Kuna, Leslie racked up 27 years’ experience coaching football, including a stint as head coach of the late Boise Burn of the Arena Football League 2 and most recently as head coach of the Bishop Kelly football team.
He’s won 17 championships and numerous coach of the year titles, including SIC 4A football coach of the year both seasons he was at BK.
Leslie had a 20-2 overall record at BK, including a perfect 12-0 record in 2010.
He resigned from the Bishop Kelly position in January 2011.
Kuna last went to the state tournament in 2007, but lost in the first round under head coach Dave Beymer.
In 2008 and 2009, Kuna amassed a 3-15 record. In 2010, Rusty Frisch took over for Beymer as head coach but did not find success, going 2-16 over two seasons before resigning in January this year.
After a long dry spell, the fervor is returning to Kuna’s football program and the number of kids who want to play for Leslie is going through the roof.
Right now, about 125 kids are coming out to practice.
How many will actually make the team?
“I never cut a kid,” Leslie said. “A kid wants to be on the team, he’s on the team.”
The Kavemen kick off the season Friday, Aug. 24 at Minico, and play their first home game the following week, Aug. 31 against Nampa.
Watch for a full season preview in the Kuna Melba News in August.
Anyone who would like to donate to help fund the new building can call Kuna High School or email KunaCoach@yahoo.com for additional information.